Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Donkeys” as Want to Read:
The Donkeys
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Donkeys

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  9 reviews
A study of the Western Front in 1915, this book is a stinging indictment of incompetent generalship. The author explores the truth of the observation that British troops were "lions led by donkeys" and shows how appalling losses almost completely destroyed the old professional army.
Paperback, 216 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Random House UK
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Donkeys, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Donkeys

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 126)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Paul Bryant


Ludendorff: The English soldiers fight like lions.
Hoffman : True. But don’t we know that they are lions led by donkeys.


It may be suggested that in the preceding half-century the British commanders had acquired reputations that were greatly out of proportion to their achievements. p19


a popular tradition of heroic infallibility had been established which was to mate disastrously with the amateurish good humour and ignorance of contemporary military theory
Jill Hutchinson
The title of this book comes from a conversation by the German High Command....."The English soldiers fight like lions......True, but they are lions led by donkeys"
This book deals with only one year of the Great War, 1915. This was the year that the army of lions, the old, faithful, hard-fighting professional army of the United Kingdom was called upon to attempt the impossible and in the end they were all slaughtered. It is a stern indictment of the generals (the donkeys) who sent their men "ove
Janelle V.
Jun 25, 2008 Janelle V. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Great War
This book furnishes documentary proof of the rightness of Clemenceau's statement that war is too important to be left to the generals.
Richard Thomas
With a Grandfather and two Great Uncles killed on the Western Front, I have more than a passing sympathy with Alan Clark's thesis and with the final Blackadder series. I know there are revisionist interpretations which make Haig a great strategist but he and his officers were still butchers, careless of the lives of the common soldiery. That carelessness for the private soldier's life goes deep in the British ruling classes - Wolf saw no great mischief in the slaughter of the Scottish regiments ...more
Mike Kershaw
Worth reading alone for the title, often attributed to a German General Officer on the British Army's leadership in World War I. The book chronicles the decimation of the pre-war BEF in 1915 and the inability of the Army leadership to understand the changes that caused it.
Christopher Saunders
Short, angry, highly influential polemic about the first two years of World War I. Clark is most on-point chronicling the backstabbing amongst the British high command, showing Haig, French, Robertson and others constantly at daggers drawn. His descriptions of Second Ypres, Loos and other battles are effective, focusing on the human cost and tactical mistakes without always considering viable alternatives. By ending his narrative in late 1915 though, Clark undercuts his ability to show the broad ...more
Juan Gray
A great read and a very enlightening description of what was happening behind the scenes of the leaders of the main combatants. Highly recommend!
Avis Black
The 'donkeys' refers to the British High Command in World War I, and Clark savages them in this book. The author served as a minister in Margaret Thatcher's government, and he was also the son of the well-known art historian Kenneth Clark.
Serjeant Wildgoose
Academically discredited nonsense and a despicable assault on the reputations of the deceased (And therefore defenceless) men who led the British Army to victory in the Great War.
Todd Taras
Todd Taras marked it as to-read
Jun 27, 2015
Ronan Mcgreevy
Ronan Mcgreevy marked it as to-read
Apr 14, 2015
LaDonna marked it as to-read
Mar 30, 2015
Jared marked it as to-read
Jan 20, 2015
Paul Hasbrouck
Paul Hasbrouck marked it as to-read
Jan 04, 2015
Muireann marked it as to-read
Dec 30, 2014
Padraic marked it as to-read
Dec 17, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Alan Clark was an English Conservative MP, historian and diarist.
More about Alan Clark...
Barbarossa Diaries: 1983-1992 The Last Diaries Diaries: Into Politics 1972-1982 Aces High

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »